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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Book Review- High Country by Peter Dawson

After my ultra heavy read of my last book, Atlas Shrugged- by Ayn Rand, I  needed something lite. I found it a my friendly local bookstore. It was in the form of Peter Dawson's High Country. I paid 50 cents for it so I can't complain and read it during my lunches at work. I was in the mood for a dime store novel western and found this one.I wasn't disappointed with my first foray into the genre.

I should start out with the writing was solid. And at 137 pages it was a breeze to go through (especially in light of the a fore mentioned monster Atlas). At points it's easy to see where the plot was going, but I was able to imagine the scenes quite vividly and the book was a surprisingly entertaining read. Dawson does a good job of making the images come to life in such a short space.

The book follows the exploits of Jim Sherrill, a drifter/rancher of sorts and right from the get go he has a problem: someone has stolen his horses and its up to him to get them back. The pacing is good, but its a bit light on the action as a good chunk of the book deals with the cast of characters that surround Jim, some good some bad, some stereotypical.  Thats not bad as each character gives you an instant feel for the Old West: A greedy wealthy southern land owner (the commodore) and his requisite southern bell daughter, plus a gang of outlaws. The main bad guy isn't blatantly evil which is a nice touch. In a way it's a bit more natural of a read as the villain(s) are believable and all in line with the 1940s view of westerns.

Jim has to take back what is his and gets some help along the way from his mountain man friend Jake who I especially liked and a few others. There is also an interesting love triangle with Jim in the middle and his affections for the vapid Ruth and the sturdy, but beautiful high spirited Jean. It doesn't take much to see where this one is going... I will warn you it is even complete with the requisite western ending meme...

In terms of the setting, the mental image I had of the town of Whitewater is a good one as is the distances of the involved. I pictured it as a river bank town in the vein of Big Whiskey from Unforgiven. I actually felt as if I was in the Old West along with the action, so the author did right by me there.

I won't go more into the story (as is usually the case) because if you are going to read it, I won't spoil it for you. And ass I'm fully back to my interest in westerns this short read fit right into my busy life. Also it was a good read to inspire me to jot some notes down for the first module that I have underway for my game Hurled into Eternity from Restless Rust Monster Publications (Icebiter Games Publications was too much of an in-joke.) And if you like where Im going with Hurled into Eternity please give me a like on Facebook to help spread the word about my game.

Lastly this book does reflect the times it was written in, namely 1947; so be forewarned: there are some racial stereotypes in the book as well as some words spoken by the characters from the south that are verboten today. 

(As I've been mentioning I'm trying to blog more and not just about my game I'm writing so keep looking out for an increase in my blogging activities. More short blog then massive sprawling ones).

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